Saturday, September 22, 2012

Book Club Conflict II - Pre-Reading

Last month's Book Club book was Wayson Choy's Not Yet: A Memoir of Living and Almost Dying.

I begin, as I've been taught, with Pre-reading. What is the book about? Illness and recovery, not a topic which interests me in general. However, the title says "living," "dying," and "memoir," three subjects in which I do have an interest. What do I know of this writer? Wayson Choy is Canadian. A fellow British Columbian. He grew up in Vancouver's Chinatown (described in his memoir Paper Shadows.) To his friends and former professors at UBC, he is known as Sonny. (I know this because I play Scrabble with a daughter of one of his professors.) Wayson was "discovered" in a Carol Shields writing class. His first novel, The Jade Peony, was a One Book Vancouver selection among its other achievements. His second novel All That Matters was nominated for the Giller. I know because I went to his presentation at the StanleyTheatre in Vancouver, when I chose that ticket as my reward for volunteering at the Vancouver Writers and Readers Festival. That night he talked about that book, and this one, as he had already experienced the health crisis which is the focus of Not Yet. I also heard him read from this book in Toronto, where I had abandoned my attempt to speak to him because the line-ups were just too long. I'm Canadian too. I don't do line-ups. And when the line-up started forming outside the Men's Washroom, waiting for him to re-appear, I just shrugged. Give the guy a break.

My Book Club point is: I've read his previous books. I love his writing style. I've heard him speak on the topic, so my hesitation, my general disinterest in things medical or in books about health is trumped by experience. Yes, I will read it, and I will attend.

Portrait of Wayson Choy by John Beebe, from (Permission requested 2012/09/22)

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